Monday, December 29, 2008


Transition, in the language of special education, concerns the efforts required of the school district to prepare the student for life after school. IDEA'04 changed the definition of transition services. The process is no longer "outcome" oriented; it is now "results" oriented. I pondered over this change for days - wondering why the busy U. S. Congress would change one word in a complex statute to another word that means exactly the same thing. I still haven't learned the reason. Section 602 (32).

IDEA now requires that beginning not later than the IEP in effect when the child is 16 years old that an IEP contain appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate independent living skills. Section 614 (d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)(aa).

I became a lot more interested in the topic of transition when I saw a great poster session at the conference of the Council on Exceptional Children in Boston last year. The presenter conducted a study that showed that post-secondary "outcomes" for students with disabilities were, for the most part, not very good. (I may be simplifying some complex concepts, but that was the bottom line.) We spend all this money on special education for k-12 and then do very little after high school.

I just read a great article by Professor John Willis Lloyd that triggered this memory. He says that the focus on access isn't enough; that most kids with disabilities really need special education. You can read his excellent article here.

What do you think about the job the schools do in transitioning children with disabilities to the world? Are we asking too much of the schools? Are we not asking enough? I'm interested in your opinions.


  1. I think transition is important for all children but especially for those with disabilities. Our Transition Cooperative (made up of volunteers and members of different agencies) recently held an event called Passport to Success ( i'm proud of! We hold this every 2 years.

  2. Jim, I was wondering if you know how to find the outcome data presented at the conference in Boston. I have been searching the CEC's website since I saw your post, but the only thing I can find is a 2000 report on outcomes for students with emotional or behavioral disabilities. Please post publically or reply to Thanks for your help, Angela

  3. Thanks Pat,

    I checked out the wiki for your Passport to Success event. Really nice job.

    i appreciate your input.

  4. Thanks Anon,

    I'm checking with the author for permission to send you the study.


  5. Transition is a huge issue for my son. He is in the last year of school and I have been fighting for six years to get a decent program. I have gone through two due process hearings and am currently appealing the last decision. In part this decision says that it was okay for the school not to have a transition representative present at the IEP meetings, that area agencies do not have to be involved in IEP meetings, and even though prior written notice does not adhere to the law it is okay because according to the judge FAPE was not denied. The decision allowed the practice of the school orchestrating an IEP to fit their needs instead of the student's needs.

    The issues that brought about the due process were the school not allowing my son to have more than 10 hours at actual work sites per week, not having a curriculum for 18-21 year olds who have to be in school, not considering input from myself as my son cannot speak for himself.

    The program we have had until this December when his last IEP was developed(a meeting I walked out of) has not included goals for socialization, planning transportation, food preparation, designating who to go to for help i.e. police, doctor, coworker etc., increasing stamina at a work site, nor increasing stamina at the work site.

    So yes transition is a big issue but until IDEA or another law is made that states explicitly what is to be done our children will continue to be non-productive non-taxpaying citizens who are not respected by society.

  6. Anon,

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your input.

    As you can see from the next post, transition really hit a nerve. I'm thinking that this topic is bound to come up again during the next reauthorization of IDEA. There is a lot of sentiment on this issue.